How Abhainn an Londraigh got its name

The serene, rural village of Lispole in County Kerry may seem like any other small village at first, however the river that runs through it is heavy with history and carries with it an unusual tale. Abhainn an Londraigh flows peacefully from one end of the village to the other, under the old railway bridge that once guided the train from Dingle to Tralee. Under the main road that now brings people from far and wide through our little village to the famous tourist town of Dingle. Abhainn an Londraigh flows unnoticed, the cool water from the mountains flowing over the jagged rocks, a continuous presence amongst daily life. But Abhainn an Londraigh has not always been known as so. The story of how this river got its name is no ordinary tale and has become a legend amongst locals of the village. The story has been handed down through the generations and even to this day, it is ensured that each child growing up in the village of Lispole is told the legend of how the river came to get its name. The story begins with a tale of two families, the Londraighs and the Gearaltaighs, who each had land either side of the river. These two families were notorious for competing with one another, and their lifelong feud was well known throughout the village. To whose land the river belonged to was without a doubt the biggest bone of contention between the two families, and they had spent a lifetime trying to lay claim to the heartbeat of the valley. Eventually the feud reached boiling point and when it was clear that no compromise could be reached amongst the parties, it was brought before the local judge. Given that both possessed the land that ran along the banks of the river on either side, it was clear that they were both equally entitled to the river. Therefore, it was decided that the family who could alter the appearance of the river in the most significant way by the end of the week would be granted claim to the river, and have it in their name. Over the next week, both the Londraighs and the Gearaltaighs focused on changing the appearance of the river. The Gearaltaighs set about digging a trench in an attempt to change the direction in which the river flowed. They worked day and night, working together as fast as they could, hoping to lure the water in another direction. Meanwhile, the Londraighs observed and watched the Gearaltaighs’ frantic attempt, while they planned their own alterations quietly and calmly. On the morning of the final day, when the judge would decide whose change was most significant, the Londgraighs arose before dawn and enlisted the help of their neighbours. Together, they gathered up the fresh milk from every cow that graced the green fields of the village, and when it came time for the decision, dumped every bucket of milk into the river, so that it ran white. The judge’s decision was easy. Unfortunately, the Gearaltaighs feeble attempt at digging an alternate route for the river was in vain, as the river continued to flow in the direction it always had. The Londraighs, however, had managed to make the river run white for the morning, and so it was christened Abhainn an Londraigh. Since then, the river has run quietly yet persistently through the village of Lispole, and as it flows, its name and how it came to be is told throughout the village and beyond, as the rightful legend that it is.